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Safety in Venues With Large Crowds and Crowd Surge Injuries: What Goes Wrong?


With all the events that happen that involve large crowds, from concerns to sporting events, we often overlook the security that goes into those events—and how easily things can go out of control, and end up injuring people when the proper security measures aren’t in place.

Deaths at the Travis Scott Concert

Nowhere was this more apparent, than the tragic and fatal incident at a Travis Scott incident in Houston in 2021.

There, during the rapper’s show, crowds surged forward, leading to eight people being trampled to death. How did that tragedy happen—and how can venues prevent these kinds of things from happening to other people?

What Went Wrong?

The lawsuit in the Travis Scott case (which has since been settled) contains allegations that, while not proven as true, nonetheless illustrate what can potentially go wrong when big crowds of people gather in one place.

The lawsuit first criticized the venue for having rescue personnel outside, instead of inside the venue, which delayed the response time to attend to the injured.

The lawsuit also criticized the use of cell phones to communicate between concert workers. This led to a number of problems—first, cell phone signals in large crowds can be hard to use, as compared to the normal walkie talkies, and cell phones can be hard to hear or feel ring, amidst the noise of a large crowd.

That allegedly led to an inability for outside rescue personnel to communicate with event staff inside the venue.

Many venues want to contain crowds from spilling out (or else, want to make sure that people from the street don’t wander in), especially in venues that are outdoors. One way to do this is through the use of barricades, as were used at the Travis Scott concert.

But those barricades actually made the scene more dangerous; the rigid and permanent nature of the barricades ensured there was no “release point” for surging crowds, and it prohibited people who could get out of the surging crowd, from exiting the venue.

The venue and the artist came under scrutiny, for failing to stop the concert when it was apparent the crowd had gotten out of control. Many feel that had the music stopped and the lights gone on, that would have acted as a natural calming agent, thus potentially stopping the forward surge of the crowd.

What Can be Done?

There are experts in crowd control, but many venues don’t follow well known tips for keeping crowds safe.

One strategy is to have empty spaces—that is, areas or aisles that have no seats, or where people aren’t allowed to stand. That way if a crowd surges, it doesn’t immediately get so close to people to crush them—the empty spaces create space for people to escape from.

Venues also need to make sure that people aren’t getting into the venue who shouldn’t be there—that can easily lead to a venue exceeding its maximum safe capacity.

Injured at an event with a large crowd of people? Contact the Tampa personal injury lawyers at Barbas, Nunez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian and schedule a consultation today.


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